Since I am now have year one of my official launch under my belt I decided to share with you a reflection on how I got here. This is part one since I have broken it down by what I have achieved, what questions I asked (or should have asked) and what information I found.
So here goes. When starting a business it is vital that you have a plan. For most small businesses, an abbreviated plan can work best for you but you need a plan nonetheless. As part of your plan, here is what you need to consider right out of the gate.
BUSINESS NAME: Choosing a name for most is a daunting task so how did I begin. I did a search of Virtual Assistants and seen what others were doing. Now if I would have really paid attention I would have noticed the site Virtual Assistants Forum because there is a whole section on starting a VA business and selecting a name. Here are a few things you need to consider:
- What is your brand and what do you want your name to imply taking into consideration your brand? My brand was virtual office assistance but I wanted local folks to know that I can help them too, hence the “My Office Assistant” name instead of My Virtual Office Assistant.
- Are there others out there with similar names and brands? You don’t want to get confused with other similar brands/companies so check out your competition. There are a lot of “non-companies” references when I searched my office assistant but I did not think it would throw too many prospects off, so I kept my name.
- Is your domain name available? Now this was something I looked at but did not put too much thought into. Had I, I may have gone a different route since I chose myofficeassist.org and sometimes it throws people off since my business name is My Office Assistant. I have tried to remedy this with SEO work and getting my name and site out there but I still need to work on that.
- Where do you want to be in one year? Choose a name that will reflect growth of your business. You may start off small with one or two products/services but end up adding on as you continue to grow. If you plan on offering typing services now but graphic design later, it would not make sense to call yourself “ABC Typing” instead of “ABC Document Services”. This was one piece of advice I took to heart and am thankful that I did listen.
- Which type of business entity will you choose (LLC, sole proprietor, DBA, S-Corp, etc.)? Most small business are either sole proprietors or LLC because they are easy to set up and the least expensive as well. It is imperative that you check local laws before making anything official. Check with your state and county offices to see how to register your business and type since some are as easy as filling out paperwork and paying a registration fee while other involve advertising your name in local and print media. And keep in mind that if you are using a factious name you need to research all governing laws as to such. The SBA has some great resources on this topic.
- Check social media and related sites. And reserve those names so others cannot take your business name from you. Think of all the avenues you are going to take for networking and marketing and save the accounts even though this may be a long range plan for you. You have one chance to choose your name so protect it as best possible.
Don’t forget to run your name by trusted friends and colleagues because what you may find is wonderful, may be a mouthful or convey the wrong message. I found choosing a name was easy but others find it a more difficult task by either over or under thinking the process.
Good luck in step one of your process.